Dentists have been feared for as long as there have been toothaches. No matter what we go to the dentist for, we’re always guaranteed a little bit—and sometimes a lot—of pain. Although humans have been dealing with our various tooth and gum problems since before the invention of tools, we should be thanking our lucky stars that we weren’t alive when these surgical devices were used.



Fascinatingly enough, archeologists have uncovered evidence which suggests that human beings have been drilling out cavities since the Neolithic period. After studying the remains of prehistoric skulls, it is now widely accepted that humans used hand drills such as bow drills to remove cavities. Imagine someone hand drilling a cavity out of your back molar without first administering novocain? Sounds too painful to imagine. It only took thousands of years for the drill to evolve into what we now use, the blessed electric drill.

Tooth Extractors

When we were little and our baby teeth were starting to fall out, our parents used to make jokes about tying a string around the loose tooth and attaching it to a door, which they would slam closed to make it pop right out. The reality of tooth extraction was just as unpleasant in the 18th century. Tooth keys were vicious looking machines that the dentist, or barber, would use to clamp onto the tooth before twisting it right out of your mouth. Of course, at an age where precision was not guaranteed and sterilization was an unheard of practice, it is no wonder that these keys often caused more damage, such as tooth breakage, nerve damage, and of course, a great deal of pain! The tooth key has evolved over time into what are now forceps, so the next time you’re sitting under that sepia-toned overhead light wishing you were somewhere else, be thankful that you don’t have a pair of dirty hands shoving an instrument of torture into your mouth.

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